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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Kornheiser’

Fat Jokes and Twitter-Baiting…

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Tony Kornheiser, of PTI fame, has repeatedly said that the reason he’s not on Twitter – other than being too old to know how to use the google machine – is that he knows two minutes in he’d say something stupid that would end up ruining his career. For all its greatness, Twitter is a medium that leads people to shoot from the proverbial hip, when perhaps they should take a moment to exhale.

Jays catcher JP Arencibia found himself embroiled in a little controversy this morning, when he responded to a baiting tweet by calling his combatant fat. Eric Mirlis, a sports talk show host was the subject of this tweet from the Jays embattled catcher,

@themirl please have one more donut, looks like u need it!

Most of the commentary around Arencibia’s tweet, including from the Getting Blanked guys here, has taken the stance that Arencibia was in the wrong for making a fat joke about the guy. And, I guess they are right, he probably should have simply exhaled, remembered that he’s a young, attractive (cough-at least according to my wife – cough), wealthy baseball player. Early season struggles or not, his life is pretty good. So, you’d like to think that JP would be above reacting to Twitter riff-raff goading him, plus a joke about the guy’s weight does probably cross some sort of line, but here’s my question, why in the world was a professional sports pundit tweeting to Arencibia to denigrate his play anyhow?

Scary bad stat line: @jparencibia9 ranked behind guys like Mike Morse and V-Mart so far this season…and they have not played.

You could say that this is an innocuous tweet, and that fat jokes are in bad taste, and yes, Arencibia is a professional athlete who should be above such petty repartees, but isn’t that exactly what the guy was looking for? Why else was he tweeting @ Arencibia? What’s the upside? In reading Eric Mirlis’ twitter feed, it seems that after his comment, he’s been lambasted by Arencibia fans, to which he’s responded with comments like,

Respect is a two way way street.

and,

It is about accountability. There is none on Twitter.

Mirlis is right, it is about accountability and respect. he showed neither when he chose to include Arencibia in his tweet. He’s certainly justified in posing the question to his radio listeners and he is probably justified in tweeting the question, but doesn’t including Arencibia in the tweet cross into some form of baiting? I understand that athletes are paid a lot of money, and thus have to accept some backlash and criticism as part of the job, but do they need to have that criticism rubbed directly into their face? Twitter – and the internet in general – breeds this kind of vitriol, both Mirlis’ baiting and Arencibia’s retort, but does that mean that like Mr Tony we need to just avoid it all together? Shouldn’t there be some sort of decorum required? If not from the casual (trolling) fan, then from the professionals?

Of course, as a talk show host, perhaps this is the level of decorum that Mirlis subscribes to,

To @jparencibia9 and his fans who think they are funny…my show is on this Sunday night at 10. Call in and come get me. I’m right here.

After all, as he himself says,

The down side of Twitter…even the bottom feeders can use it.

I’m sure Arencibia is thinking the same thing.

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Ben goes Down…

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

So, after weeks of speculation, an investigation that led nowhere, but made everyone involved uneasy, and a district attorney who didn’t lay charges, but continually referred to “the victim,” Ben Roethlisberger has learned his NFL fate. Commissioner Roger Goodell continued his iron fisted ways, by giving the physical quarterback six games to figure out why using his body guards to keep everyone out of a bar bathroom while he’s inside with a 20 year girl, is perhaps a dumb idea.

At first blush, this might seem extreme for what has proven not to be a crime, or at least not a crime with enough evidence to convict, but, much like when David Stern suspended Gilbert Arenas for being a moron, Goodell is suspending Roethlisberger for putting himself in a questionable position. Look, if I want to go out to a college bar, get drunk and hit on coeds, then it would be creepy and weird, but given that none of them would come near this short, chubby, balding guy in his thirties, it would ultimately be harmless. However, when a two time Super Bowl champion quarterback with the nickname Big Ben strolls into a college bar, girls, many of whom have had some sort of alcohol, notice.

From that point, there are all sorts of scenarios that can develop, almost none of which involve Ben finding the future Mrs Roethlisberger. This is the second time in two years that Ben’s nightlife has enabled his name to be connected together with the words sexual assault. Now, I’m no math najor, but I’m pretty sure that’s at least two times too many. What Goodell is essentially telling Ben is that it would be better in the future for him to drink at home. It might also be better for him not to engage in casual sex with women he doesn’t know, but that’s just me speculating…

Of course, Goodell wouldn’t care what Ben did in bars in March, if Roethlisberger didn’t also throw a football so well. Today on PTI, the great, and bald, Michael Wilbon addressed the issue by stating simply,

I don’t like Sports Leagues trying to legislate morality.

Fundamentally I agree with Wilbon, but the problem here isn’t that the NFL is trying to legislate morality, rather it’s trying to legislate image. Ben Roethlisberger is a larger than life quarterback. He’s won two Super Bowls, he’s at the very least one of the ten most famous faces in the league. And it’s just terrible publicity for Goodell to open his morning paper and see the words: NFL, Roethlisberger, Rape. It’s just bad for business.

Wilbon’s partner, Mr Tony Kornheiser, has long maintained that even though he wasn’t charged, Big Ben would be suspended because Goodell had previously suspended Adam “Pacman” Jones for violating the NFLs conduct code without being charged for a crime. TK, who knows a little something about suspensions, felt that Goodell had to show his 80% black players that there aren’t different rules for a white quarterback and a black defensive back. I think that this may have played some small part in Goodell’s decision, but it’s important to remember that the Commissioner doesn’t work for the players, he works for the owners. As a wig wearing tennis player once said, “image is everything.”

In this case, Big Ben’s image, and his superstar status, worked against him in a really expensive fashion. We’ve all had nights out where we wonder how it got so crazy, and how we spent so much money, but at over 2 million in lost salary, Ben’s night out in March has to rank up there with the worst of them, of course it’s still better than the victims’ night…

Oh No, Mr Tony…

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Tony Kornheiser was suspended yesterday for two weeks from the PTI show for comments he made last week about Sportcenter Anchor Hanah Storm.  I listen to Tony’s radio show most days and I happened to be listening on Thursday when he made the comments and I happened to be listening on Friday when he appologised.  I guess it makes sense to go in chronological order, so I’ll start with his comment on Storm and go from there:

Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She’s got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt … way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now…She’s got on her typically very, very tight shirt. She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body … I know she’s very good, and I’m not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, so I won’t … but Hannah Storm … come on now! Stop! What are you doing? … She’s what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point.

If you listen regularly to TK, then you know that this is what he does.  In his studio, there are several TVs, which his co-hosts and him watch while discussing the news of the day.  When something on the TV strikes their attention they comment on whatever that might be.  The comments are usually of the critical variety and they’re often funny.  Tony is old, acerbic, cantankerous, and opinionated.  In this case, he’s also right.

Many of Hannah Storm’s Sportscenter outfits are at best inappropriate and at worst the type of clothing that elicits words like cougar. (of course, if you’re Tony Kornheiser, why say “cougar,” when you could say, “a Holden Caulfield fantasy”)  Ostensibly this is fine, and I believe that Storm should wear whatever she wants, but ESPN requires their men to dress in suits, so why do they not require their women to dress in kind?  As Storm herself wrote in 2008,

My preference is fitted and feminine clothes and I am really happy with my style now because its much more reflective of my personality and a lot more fun, rather than being so anchor-ish!

So, if Storm is going to dress in clothes that reflect her personality, then can Stuart Scott wear leopard print pants and a grey fedora to ESPN’s NBA telecasts?  I just want to understand where the line is here?  This is an issue of women’s sexuality in sports broadcasting.  Storm is wearing clothes that make her feel attractive and that’s fine, but they aren’t professional, and while she has every right to wear them, in so doing she opens herself up to criticism (just as Scott would were he to wear the aforementioned outfit).

I’m not taking the position that TK’s comments weren’t inappropriate, they were.  However, on the internet I’ve seen it proposed that Kornheiser was suspended for sexist comments about Storm.  I’m sorry, but this just isn’t the case.  His comments were harsh, and perhaps mean spirited, and they related to sexuality, but that in and of itself, does not make them sexist.  He was critiquing her outfit, it’s the same thing that happens a thousand times a day in every walk of life.  And, as I mentioned above, it’s the same thing that Kornheiser does every day on his show.  So, really, what his comment required was a sincere apology.  And that is what Kornheiser gave on Friday:

I apologize unequivocally. … I was wrong. This is sort of what I do, and I’m sorry for it. … Not the first time and won’t be the last time but I apologise for it this time.

There was more, but the essence is there.  Kornheiser was wrong, he knew he was wrong, and he said so.  He admitted that he’s an idiot, that he looks like a troll and that it should be self evident that (because he looks like a troll) no one should take his fashion comments seriously.  He also acknowledged that he had called Storm to apologise personally to her.

This seemed fair, and to me at the time it seemed like the end of the situation.  Then yesterday I turned on PTI to Dan Le Batard’s voice and I thought… ‘Huh, I wonder if he had a “forced” day off?’  Before today’s show, in a single paragraph item on ESPNs homepage I read that Tony was suspended for two weeks.  My first thought was, ‘oh, well I guess I have an extra half hour every day now, and my second thought was, wow, that’s absurd.’

As I’ve mentioned, TK makes comments like this about everyone.  Maybe not as deliciously juicy as the sausage comparison, and maybe not as literally vivid as the Caulfield remark, but he bitches, moans, complains, and denigrates all kinds of people.  He screams for Chuck Bell to be fired, he demands that Hoda Kotb be left out in the snow, he wishes death on the pretentious people who ski down his street during the winter, and he criticizes the wardrobe choices of people on television.  The only difference between all his other rants and this one, is that Storm is also employed by ESPN.

Now, I’m not one of those bloggers who rails against the evil that is ESPN.  This is perhaps because as a Canadian I don’t see all of their television product, but I think much, obviously not all, but perhaps most, of their online material is very, very good.  Do they milk topics like Sox-Yanks for every penny it’s worth?  Sure, but they are a business and I can’t generally get too worked up with a network focusing their coverage on the topics that will elicit the greatest ratings.  Over all, given how coverage of Sports was before the Four Letter, I can’t really be to virulent against them.

Having said that, Kornheiser’s suspension is so patently ridiculous that everyone with ESPN should be embarrassed.  From the press release:

Tony Kornheiser’s comments about Hannah Storm were entirely inappropriate. Hurtful and personal comments such as these are not acceptable and have significant consequences.

Are TK and Hannah Storm co-workers?  In the strictest sense, yes.  But that’s like saying that me and the HamBurgler are coworkers.  Was he mean to a co-worker?  Yes.  Does that warrant a day off?  Maybe, but a day at most.  When you start handing out two week long suspensions for your talent criticizing one another, well, you’re walking a dangerous path.

ESPN, owned of course by the Walt Disney  Co., is derided by the online community for exactly this sort of perceived draconian censorship.  Correct or not, the perception is that they punish their talent for making any sort of disparaging comment about the company or it’s employees.  In suspending Tony for so long, they’re trying to maintain an image that everything at ESPN is magical, when in reality sometimes things are horrifying.  It’s unfortunate, but at least I know that for the next two weeks, I have an extra half hour  to critique the outfit that you’re wearing…

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